Louis Barretta became the third person to plead guilty in the case, which focuses on what prosecutors say was gambling and loansharking within Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra under acting boss Joseph Ligambi.
Ligambi, known as Uncle Joe, and the others go on trial Oct. 9. The indictment portrays the group today as more focused on making money than on violence. But a judge agreed this week that a jury could hear about La Cosa Nostra's violent history in Philadelphia, given the threatened violence caught on government wiretaps during the current 12-year investigation.
The jury will therefore hear about the violent 1980s reign of Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo and other infamous Philadelphia mob bosses before and after him.
"A common method of operation of the Philadelphia LCN Family was the use violence and threats of violence to achieve its objectives, including extortionate credit transactions and illegal gambling," prosecutors wrote in a document filed with Barretta's plea Wednesday.
Defense attorneys had argued that allowing prosecutors to tell jurors about the 1980s violence would taint their clients.
"They're trying to make the jury believe these people on trial here are every bit as evil as the people who went out and committed murders for Scarfo," lawyer Ed Jacobs, who represents Ligambi, argued last month at a pretrial hearing.
According to the prosecution filing, a frightened debtor went to the FBI when he could not repay $16,000 in gambling losses from bets placed with Barretta and a co-defendant. The debtor had been told to pay $1,000 a week, prosecutors said. An undercover FBI agent then met with the bookies, placing nearly $100,000 in sports wagers.
Another victim, who owed $5,000, was made to pay interest of $1,500 a week, authorities said.
Barretta, 48, faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to two racketeering counts involving loansharking and illegal gambling. The plea does not require him to cooperate in the Ligambi prosecution, except to acknowledge his own crimes. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 26.
His defense lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment.